Possessive with Two Nouns

I used to have so much trouble remembering this rule.

Writing Tips

The possessive case can be confusing, especially when two nouns are doing the possessing. Fortunately, The Chicago Manual of Style sheds light on this conundrum.

Chicago says that when two nouns “possess” the same entity, only the second takes an apostrophe (‘):

my aunt and uncle’s house

Gilbert and Sullivan’s lolanthe

Minneapolis and Saint Paul’s transportation system

On the other hand, when two nouns possess different entities, both possessives take an apostrophe:

my aunt’s and uncle’s specific talents

New York’s and Chicago’s transportation systems

our friends’ and neighbors’ children

Isn’t that neat?

If any writing questions have you stumped, send them in. I’ll check them out for you.


Tara Treasurefield
Tara’s Writing Studio

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